An experimental investigation was undertaken to measure the intrinsic elastic properties of several of the microstructural components of human vertebral trabecular bone and tibial cortical bone by the nanoindentation method. Specimens from two thoracic vertebrae (T-12) and two tibiae were obtained from frozen, unembalmed human male cadavers aged 57 and 61 years. After drying and mounting in epoxy resin nanoindentation tests were conducted to measure Young's modulus and the hardness of individual trabeculae in the vertebrae and single osteons, and interstitial lamellae in the tibiae. Measurements on the vertebral trabeculae were made in the transverse direction, and the average Young's modulus was found to be 13.5 +/- 2.0 GPa. The tibial specimens were tested in the longitudinal direction, yielding moduli of 22.5 +/- 1.3 GPa for the osteons and 25.8 +/- 0.7 GPa for the interstitial lamellae. Analysis of variance showed that the differences in the measured moduli are statistically significant. Hardness differences among the various microstructural components were also observed.